The response to Fastcase for the iPhone has been overwhelming. Thank you to all who downloaded (and reviewed) the app. Here is a round-up of recent reviews and press:
“I give Fastcase’s app a hearty two-thumbs up for both effective implementation and the surefire “kick-in-the-pants” this free tool will bring to this somewhat archaic, top-heavy industry. Run. Don’t walk.” – Martha Sperry of Advocate’s Studio. Read the full review here.
“[U]nless and until we see something good and free from Westlaw, Lexis or Google, Fastcase will clearly be the research app of choice for all attorneys with iPhones.” – Jeff Richardson of iPhone J.D. Read the full review here.
“When you’re setting the standard for mobile legal research, you can afford to cut a few corners. Fortunately for us, Fastcase cut few, if any. The Fastcase iPhone app is an extremely solid app which probably won’t be dethroned as the king of mobile legal research anytime soon.” – Joshua Auriemma of Legal Geekery. Here the full review here.
New App Allows Smarter Research Anywhere, Anytime, For Free
Washington, DC — (January 29, 2010) – Legal publisher Fastcase announced today the release of the world’s first mobile legal research app, now available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch from Apple’s App Store.
Fastcase is the largest law library on the iPhone, with free download of the app, and free searching of Fastcase’s comprehensive national law library of cases and statutes.
The app uses the same next-generation legal research engine as Fastcase’s acclaimed Web-based platform. Fastcase for the iPhone users can search the comprehensive Fastcase legal research database with keyword (or “Boolean”) search in addition to citation lookup for cases and statutes. The app also supports “browsing” statutes in outline view.
“The future of legal research is mobile devices – ubiquitous computing and access anywhere.” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase. “The mobile platform is what’s next for legal research, and Fastcase is going to be a major player in this emerging market.”
Experts agree that this is an important development. Legal blogger Robert Ambrogi says “I was impressed. The app is easy to use and produces lightning-fast results. . . . For legal research on the go, at any time, and for zero cost, this is a must-have for any lawyer with an iPhone.” (review: http://bit.ly/9YlQTB)
Law professor James B. Levy of the Legal Writing Professor Blog thinks the development so significant, he asks: “Will it be long before students are required to purchase iPhones for law school in addition to, or instead of, laptops?” (review: http://bit.ly/beE5L1)
Fastcase for the iPhone is available starting today in the iTunes store (search for Fastcase), or you can find more information at www.fastcase.com/iPhone.
I don’t think I could, in good conscience, charge a client for legal research done entirely in Lexis or Westlaw at this point, without first starting out with free (or lower cost, at least) options like Google Scholar or Fastcase. The cost difference is staggering, and I would feel unethical to charge a client for the cost of exploratory research using the big two (but not for using them to Shephardize, for example, for which a paid service is simply required).
Bob Ambrogi takes a first look at Fastcase’s iPhone app, and likes what he sees:
The app provides access to the largest free law library available on the iPhone. . . . I was impressed by its ease of use. I was even more impressed by its speed.
Fastcase’s mobile edition has been cooking for a while in our labs, and the iPhone edition is the first product to ship. Fastcase for the iPhone will be free to download, and completely free to use. We’ve submitted it to the iTunes app store, and will announce its launch on our homepage at www.fastcase.com.
In the meantime, for a sneak peek at features and screen shots, Ambrogi nails it in his review:
[T]his is a surprisingly robust legal research tool that will allow its users to find cases and statutes wherever they are, whenever they want, all for free.
We couldn’t say it better ourselves. Watch for Fastcase for the iPhone in the App Store soon!
The February issue of the ABA Journal previews what should be a very interesting year in the legal research industry, with both Westlaw and LexisNexis launching the first major new re-designs of their research software in more than a decade, and new entrant Bloomberg Law porting its research service from terminals to the Web.
All three services are moving to more intuitive interfaces, customized jurisdiction lists, simpler search boxes, relevance-ranked results, and visualizations of results. But the ABA Journal quietly raises the question: Isn’t Fastcase already doing all of these things?
Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, a 10-year-old legal research and information provider in Washington, D.C., says his company has thrived because it already addressed the problems that LexisNexis and West are now trying to correct. “In the old way of doing legal research you get this long list of results and the results are undifferentiated. It’s one-size-fits-all,” he says. “That’s a huge problem.”
Fastcase sorts results from best to worst and citation analysis is built into the results. The results also can be sorted with a “four-dimensional graphical map” that helps users see the answers to the search.
Beyond innovations in legal research technology, the ABA Journal also points out Fastcase’s innovative business model as well.
In addition to selling its services to individual lawyers and firms, Fastcase counts 17 state bar associations and a variety of local bars as clients. In some instances, bar members receive access to all of Fastcase’s databases for free; in others, they are given access to their state’s case law and federal case law for free. Fastcase then upsells members on access to the cases of the other 49 states. More than 380,000 lawyers nationwide have some free access through their bar associations, according to the company.
At Fastcase, we’re passionate about innovation. We’re trying to change what David Curle of Outsell calls a “fat and happy” culture of complacency and high prices in legal research. Whether it’s innovation in research software, industry-leading reference support, or simply disruptive pricing, we’re proud to be leaders. If that shakes up the industry, and makes everyone innovate — all the better! Isn’t that what market disruption is about?